This post is here to teach the cumulative cost of buying little things regularly that could have major impacts on your financial health.
Gas Stations / Convenience Stores are evil, and by the time you get to the bottom of this article I believe you will agree with me.
Let’s begin with a simple question: How much do you spend on drinks, snacks, smokes or lotto?
The average 32oz fountain soda is around $1.00 before tax, throw in a candy bar or snack bag which run the gambit from $1 to $3 or more. Add in a daily pack of smokes, which Google tells me averages at $6.28, then your total comes out to being over $10, do that 5 days a week on your way to or from work and that comes out to $200+ a month, or $300+ if you do it everyday.
Add in a friday 6-pack of beer for $5.79 (Price used for Bud Light) and you can slap an easy $24 a month on top of your 2-300 expense.
Everyone knows that things cost more at the gas station than at any other store, but the convenience of convenience stores comes with a cost, much like buying brand name goods vs generic. The change in buying from Walmart, Target or whatever your local supermarket chain happens to be may only save you $0.50 at most per item, but doing this could save you up to $1.50 or more per day! Using the numbers from above that means saving $30 a month just for shopping away from the station. This does run the risk of buying things you don’t need while at the bigger store, but if you can focus and not spend the extra money you will save big over time.
Speaking of supermarkets, everyone knows you should never go to the store without taking care of two things first: Never go to the store hungry, and never go to the store without a list.
Running to the store because you need milk and eggs might accidentally turn into buying the eggs and milk, because they are conveinetly placed close to each other, but they are often placed at the far end of the store and especially in the case of Walmart, you have to walk past two dozen isles of food to get back to the front to check out. You might decide to grab one of the discount bakery goods (a personal fault of mine) or you might check out and of the two dozen end caps, or even decide to get some other stuff you think you are out of, or might want for your next meal. Whatever the case is, Stick To The List.
Another one of the little money traps I have fallen into myself are subscriptions. I often don’t remember I am subscribed to things until I go to check out my bank and I am unexpectedly short $20, $40, or even $60, or much like the above items, even a couple of small $4.99 and a single $2.00 subscription. The kinds of subs I forget about are often out of a genuine place of interest such as SkillShare or Udemy or some other website that I can use to learn stuff. Other automatic and reoccuring purchases I have forgotten I’m signed up for are things I pre-paid a year for, such as Playstation Plus/Now, a to-do list tracker called Momentum (my guilty secret because it only costs $2.00 a month… despite not using it much) and lastly a $5.00 monthly sub to a video game website that tracks how well I play and offers suggestions on how to improve my gameplay.
Obviously a $5.00 or $2.00 subscription wont break the bank, even year over year ($60 for one, $24 for the other) but that is the exact trap that I am trying to warn you about. It’s not the $2.00 monthly sub that is killing me, it’s that with surprise expenses like Playstation dropping $60 on me because I forgot my year was up, combined with the yearly $24 from Momentum, combined with another $60 for the video game coach, etc. etc.
This dosn’t hold a candle to the costs of fast food, or even worse, delivery such as GrubHub compared to eating at home. Two burgers, fries and drinks might come out to $20+ eating at the fast food place, which becomes 25 or more if you use Grubhub to get the food for you. (The price is potentially way off, because I rarely eat fast food, and I’ve only ever used food delivery once) When the same meal might have cost you the same $20, but you got enough meat, veggies and fries to feed 4 people instead of 2.
I urge you to take a more active approach to your little expenses. You don’t have to be Scrooge McDuck and bawk at every copper the leaves your hands, but at the same time do not be content with shoveling your wealth away for efficient and unexpected things.